Recipe: Southern-Style Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Recipes from The Kitchn

They call this "A Very Good Chocolate Cake." Well, they have lied (they being Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, the quintessential Southern chefs). A more appropriate title would be, "The Very Best Chocolate Cake." A bold statement, yes, but once you try this moist, rich slice of heaven I think you might agree.

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So why, exactly, is this chocolate cake the best? Well instead of telling you a poetic story about it, I'm just going to share with you some adjectives blurted out during the making, and eating, of this crazy-delicious dessert. Let's start with the frosting, shall we? I believe it went something like this: Finger dip. Silence. Finger dip. Scream. "Oh my gosh!! Oh my gosh!! This is definitely what the chocolate river in Willy Wonka is made of. Am I right!?" Giant drippy spoonful. Food coma.

I assembled and frosted the cake before I went to bed, knowing I'd have to wait another day before I got to eat it. (Thank goodness my frosting binge knocked me right out!) By the time the photos were taken and it was ready to be devoured, I was rabid. "F@*&in' amazing!" may have been my words uttered, but my father, always the Southern gentleman, just whispered. "Sinful. Absolutely sinful." (Which we all really know means "f@*&in' amazing," am I right?)

So yes, this cake is good. It's great. It's wonderful. There are no pastry chef tricks here, just good ol' country cooking at it's finest — which means butter, vegetable oil, and a pound of chocolate chips. Sounds like perfection to me... And what more could you really ask for in A Very Good Chocolate Cake the very best chocolate cake in the world? Enjoy!

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Southern-style Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Adapted from The Gift of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock

Serves 10

For the frosting:
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup double-strength brewed coffee
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the cake:
2 cups granulated white sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
4 ounces good-quality unsweetened or 82% extra dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup hot double-strength brewed coffee
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the frosting, heat the cream, butter, sugar and salt over low heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted and smooth. Add coffee and vanilla; stir until blended. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature, stirring minimally, until it reaches a spreadable consistency (about 2 hours). While the frosting is cooling, make the cake.

For the cake, preheat oven to 325°F. Generously coat the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with shortening. Line the pans with parchment paper rounds and coat the bottom and sides with additional shortening; toss with flour, discarding the excess. (I highly recommend using Baker's Joy, a shortening spray with flour added. It is much easier!)

In a medium bowl, sift together sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the chocolate into the hot coffee until completely melted. In another large mixing bowl combine the eggs, oil, sour cream, and vanilla and whisk until combined. Stir the melted chocolate into the egg mixture. Lastly, fold in the flour mixture in 1/3 increments, stirring well after each addition, making sure the flour is completely incorporated and there are no lumps.

Divide batter between prepared cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in pans, approximately 30 minutes. Run a flat spatula around the edge of the pans and remove cakes to wire racks to cool completely. (Do not remove parchment paper layer until cool.)

Spread a thick layer of frosting on top of one layer. Top with the second layer and spread remaining frosting over top and sides. Allow cake to sit at room temperature, covered by a cake dome or large glass bowl, for at least two hours before serving, or overnight. The flavors only get better with time.

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(Images: Nealey Dozier)

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